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Frazee talks about NHL debut

Five years in the making, goalie Jeff Frazee enjoyed his NHL debut in New Jersey’s 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on March 9. He came on in relief of Johan Hedberg to start the third, the ’Canes leading, 5-0.

Even though he’d been a pro for four-plus seasons, Frazee wasn’t immune to the butterflies that come with making any kind of debut.

“Coming in in the middle of a game, no matter what league you’re in, it’s a tough task,” Frazee said Thursday after practice with the AHL’s Albany Devils. “You’re waiting for that first shot, you don’t know what it’s going to be, and you can’t really let your mind wander because if you let your mind wander, you’re not really in the game. So you like to get that first shot early or maybe a dump-in just to get in the game, but the guys played really well in front of me. I couldn’t ask for much more from them.”

He saw only three shots in the period, stopping them all, as Carolina was not as intent as pushing for more goals and the Devils were skating hard to get into the game.

“I was happy with it,” he said. “I would like to, at some point, start a game. I think that’s where you’ll find out if you can play. The chance hasn’t arisen yet this year, but I’m happy with at least getting in a game. We’ll take it as it goes.”

The Devils scored three times, twice early in the period, and gave the netminder memories of a big comeback he experienced with Albany a couple seasons back.

“We got two goals in the first five minutes,” he said. “It was kind of like the Norfolk game the year before when we were down, 4-0, going into the third. I thought, ‘We have a chance here. I just have to keep everything out, do my best, do my job, and if I do that, that’s all I can ask for.’ ”

He came back to Albany this week as New Jersey re-activated Martin Brodeur, who had been on the injured reserve list with a sore back.

With Albany, Frazee is 7-9-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. He has won his last three starts with a .948 save percentage in those games. Two of those came in the last weekend before his recall, beating Syracuse and Adirondack on the road.

“He had a real good weekend before he left,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “He looked sharp.”

Kowalsky will need both his goalies — Frazee and Keith Kinkaid — over the next few weeks as the schedule is jam-packed with games. The Devils have 16 games left to play in 4 1/2 weeks. They are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of the playoff picture — Hershey and Connecticut are tied for seventh with 68 points. Albany, though, has played three fewer games than Connecticut and two fewer than Hershey.

“I just want to make the playoffs. I think that’s everyone’s goal right now. Points are so vital right now. Every point can make the difference, every night can make the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. We have to take it one game at a time and play our best as goalies and as a team.”

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